In many schools, lighting eats up 30-40% of utility costs. As energy codes become more restrictive, can lighting satisfy the demands of the modern classroom, with horizontal and vertical workplanes, computers and A/V equipment? To test one approach, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) engaged studies of a new Integrated Classroom Lighting System (ICLS) developed by manufacturer Finelite, which I wrote about in a whitepaper for the Lighting Controls Association, available here.

Litecontrol's CS/av luminaire in AV mode.

Litecontrol's CS/av luminaire in AV mode.

ICLS includes two rows of direct/indirect linear fluorescent pendants, mounted parallel to the windows and spaced about 15 ft. apart, with a wallwasher illuminating the main teaching board. Each luminaire includes three high-performance (3100-lumen) T8 lamps: two outboard lamps producing uplight and downlight, and a separately ballasted inboard lamp producing downlight. Both the inboard lamp and outboard lamps cannot be on at the same time, resulting in immediate energy savings. An occupancy sensor provides automatic shutoff when the classroom is empty, and an optional photosensor can be used to dim the lights when daylight boosts light levels above a target threshold. As a result, the NYSERDA demonstration project revealed ICLS reducing lighting power density to an average 0.73W/sq.ft., about one-half of the maximum limit posed by the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 energy standard. Teacher switches mounted near the main teaching board allow the teacher to switch from General Mode (downlight off, uplight/downlight on) to A/V (and reading) Mode (downlight on, uplight/downlight off). A dimming option (using a dimmable ballast) allows the teacher to turn on and dim the downlight component.

Other manufacturers are developing their own solutions based on the ICLS template developed by the California researchers, such as Peerless and Litecontrol. Litecontrol’s new Control Solution/av, for example, provides flexibility needed in today’s modern classroom, which often uses whiteboards, smart boards, computers and LCD projectors. The CS/av is prewired for easy teacher control in two modes using a simple switch—General, for general room lighting, and AV, for AV presentations. It is also integrated with dual-technology occupancy sensors and is available with daylighting control.

It’s not uncommon these days to see luminaire manufacturers beginning to integrate lighting controls into their products, whether it’s a new Peerless Lighting solution integrating Synergy Lighting Controls’ SIMPLY5 control system, Litecontrol luminaires with various control options, or Zumtobel’s ZX5 luminaire with Lutron’s Ecosystem.